Working my way through Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Better Call Saul in equal measures in my off moments, hence the title.  Enjoying the optimism in the former, and the dark humour in the latter.   Did find that Mrs Llama does not approve of me watching comedy in bed at night, as I keep waking her up by laughing too loudly.  May have to resort to reading books again.  I know, dark days if I have to read outside of office hours!

  • Writing
    • Caught myself writing the conclusion to the chapter in my sleep on Tuesday night.  Still totally stressed out about it, and so frustrated about how long it takes me to write and edit things.  Mrs Llama has been a saint by doing some proof reading – and mostly being very rude about my use of commas and semi-colons.  Finally shipped it off to my supervisory team late Friday afternoon.  Current word count on the thesis now stands at a tiny 77,868.  Or enough to stun one small charging rhino if I printed it out and threw it at them!
  • Teaching
    • Got asked if I wanted to teach again next year.  There was little more I could say other than “Yes please!”.  Well that and “Any chance of something a bit longer term?”.  Well, it pays to be cheeky and the worst they can do is say no.  Well okay, they could say “Don’t be so cheeky, no!”.  Have to see how this pans out, but I have loved teaching the students here at NTU, and it would be great to develop it into a little something more than the occasional seminar.  After Easter I am penciled in for my first proper lecture on a 2nd year course.  Will worry about writing that…erm, after Easter?  Actually I will be adapting some of my earlier talks, as it’s about OA.  I just need to amplify some of the political-economic dimensions of it in the analysis.  Wonder if I’ll need to write a seminar as well?
  • Media Communications
    • Looking at Press Releases this week, although the content of the seminar felt a little similar to what we had done around journal articles earlier in the term (tried pointing out this synergy to the class, not sure they quite got it).  Not the most engaged of seminars, in that I could get the students to crank out some good headlines but fell a bit in flat in getting them to create some standfirsts.  Ah well, hopefully it’s given them enough of an idea about the form and style for press releases for the assessment, which was the core goal.  Do find myself wondering how well some of the groups are working together, as it all happens out of sight…hope any that run into any real difficulties let me know.  Probably being paranoid and they’ll all produce lovely bits of assessed work.
    • Flagged up that one of the weeks of the presentations gets a second marker…all be it a jolly decent academic who’ll give them all a fair crack of the scoring whip.  Should also ensure I’m fair and even handed in my marking!
  • Face to Facebook
    • This week we were looking at Facebook and its role in creating/representing/distorting our personal representations to others.  You’d think this would be a subject that would be quite a zesty one to get into, but no I struggled a bit with it.  I think this was in part due to a not especially easy to adapt seminar.  There’s the nub of some good ideas in there but certainly for the first group I struggled to turn it into a digestible format.  I suspect if I’d had a few more hours to spare to refine it then I’d have been able to craft something more workable, but I’m limited in the time I can feel I can devote to it, so just went with a fairly simple adaptation.  Found myself doing a whole lot of talking with the groups, which I guess is no bad thing – except I was really hoping I could get them to think more intently about their own praxis.  The Friday groups were slightly hampered by the fact that the 2015 UK solar eclipse was in progress…but actually despite my running commentary on the subject the students got more into the topic.  Perhaps it was because I was ready to discuss it more this time, or perhaps they just had more to say.  Either way I came away thinking it was a better couple of sessions all told.
    • Should say thanks to all the Fb friends whose approaches to using social media I referenced and commented on as representing particular societal or critical insights.  So big high-5s in no order to John, John, Sarah, Kaye, Giles, Ju, Gary, Sian, Valérie, Ed, Kate, Jo, Dana, Ellie, Ed, Cassie, Catherine and any parent who posted a world-book day photo in my stream.  Also my mum and dad who despite not being on Fb (or in one case top-side any more) also underscored some valuable cultural observations.  You were all invaluable insights, splendid friends and I promise I was far ruder about my own social media presence!  Most of you won’t read this bit anyway – so you’ll never know I consider my Fb interactions to be some form of long running ongoing experiment 😉
    • Also had the horrible thought that I’ll have 80+ essays to mark in a week’s time.  Fun that will not be.  Going to have to find a way to maximise my effort/minimise the time it takes to get through them – although I can see I’ll be pulling some late evening’s marking in order to get through them and stay on top of my own studies.
  • Conferences
    • Heard my paper for the FIL 2015 conference in Manchester on effective communication has been accepted.  Not until late June which means I won’t worry overly about writing it for a while.  Mrs Llama is a bit miffed that I might be away for her birthday as it clashes with this conference.  Pointed out I should be back home for part of it, and also that she went off to work on my last birthday anyway!
    • Put my booking in for the ISIS 2015 Conference in Vienna (no not that ISIS – International Society for Information Studies).  Also finally got an answer from the Graduate School about some funding.  Not as much as I’d hoped, but I’ve put in a formal request for it now and it looks like that’ll contribute to it.  Also looks like my dept head has a few quid I can apply for as well, which is fabulous – as it means I won’t totally wreak my life’s savings just to go to a conference!  Have to fill in a long form though.  Gah.
    • Also put in an application for a travel scholarship, although as there’s only 2 of these for the whole university I suspect there is only a slim chance I’ll get it.  But it was an interesting exercise chasing some funding, something I know I’ll need to get used to as an academic.  If, that is, I get any kind of academic job at the end of this!
  • Book reviews
    • Finally made myself write one of the two book reviews I’ve got pending (The James Bond Encyclopedia) at the start of the week.  Managed to avoid using too many bad puns, which I’ll count as a success.  Will tackle the next review, next month I think.  Or maybe I’ll take it on the long train ride to Glasgow.  Not sure but I think I’m getting close to passing the 100 book reviews mark…which is some kind of minor achievement.  Then again I’ve been writing these since I was working at York Uni, and that’s 5 jobs ago now (or 10 years)!  Still a goodly number though.
  • Research Profile
    • Some months ago the uni finally offered to give all us PGR students a research profile page, with a massive 4 papers being able to be listed.  That’s a laugh, given I’ve over 30 articles published…not to mention almost 100 book reviews.  Oh, and those book chapters I’ve written.  And let’s not even count the reports okay.  As usual, university systems for PGRs are designed to cope with non-mature students with little life experience.  *sigh*  Anyway, wrote mine before Xmas…and finally this week it was announced they’ll go live.  Next month.  Suspect they’ll not be that much use, but it will be nice for the uni to admit publicly I exist as a PGR sometime before I leave!
  • Student Feedback
    • Got my first batch of student feedback this week.  Can’t share the comments for data protection reasons…and also because a lot of them made my head swell.  They were a lot of very complimentary ones.  Some good observations for improvements as well, that I’ll try and take on board, and try not to be too complacent.  If anything I’ll have redouble my efforts to keep up my standard of lecturing!

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